Phonak ActiveVent Technology

July 10, 2022

Phonak ActiveVent Technology

At their core, hearing aids are designed to help people with hearing loss understand speech better. Due to technical advancements in recent years, hearing aids have been increasingly successful at achieving this goal of improved speech intelligibility. 

Over the last few decades, this aim has been the main focus of hearing aid manufacturers. That is until wireless audio streaming became available in hearing aids, allowing users to stream audio directly from their smartphone to their hearing aids. Today's hearing aids can connect to various smart devices via Bluetooth, allowing you to listen to podcasts, audiobooks, YouTube videos, phone calls, and, yes, music right in your hearing aids. 

Why do most hearing aids perform so poorly when streaming music?

Because modern hearing aids are constantly being improved to improve speech understanding, when listening to music, the sound quality is not always ideal. To understand why you need to first learn a little about psychoacoustics. This may seem like a complicated topic, but it simply refers to the study of sound perception. A lot of what audiologists do is modify sound using digital programming and physical adjustments to a hearing aid to improve hearing. In most cases, we're making these adjustments to improve speech intelligibility. However, the psychoacoustics that contributes to improved speech intelligibility are different from those that contribute to improved music perception.

The majority of people with hearing loss, for example, have a loss in the high-frequency region. Their hearing remains normal in the low-frequency regions. High frequencies are referred to as treble tones, while low frequencies are referred to as bass tones. If you have this type of hearing loss, you should use an open dome or a large vented custom earmold on your hearing aids. Most hearing aid users who want enhanced speech intelligibility will benefit from this open vent configuration.

However, these receivers are not ideal for those who want higher-quality music streaming. When you stream music from your smartphone into your hearing aids and use an earmold with an open dome or open venting, the low-frequency sounds seep out of the open vents, preventing you from hearing them. As a result, the music sounds flat, and you don't hear any of the low-frequency bass tones. Using a dome or earmold without venting will impede your natural low-frequency hearing capabilities, reducing the perceived quality of your voice and perhaps reducing the sound quality of someone speaking to you. It was for this reason that Phonak created their new ActiveVent Receiver.

The ActiveVent Receiver from Phonak

These smart receivers open when you want better voice intelligibility but close off when you need better quality music streaming. This is the first smart receiver of its kind in the world.

Until now, if you wanted decent quality streamed music through your hearing aids, you had to remove your open dome or earmold with an open vent and replace it with a dome or an earmold with no venting, so you could trap in the low-frequency sounds and achieve that low-frequency bass.You'll get the best of both worlds when you use the ActiveVent Receiver. When you're looking for higher voice intelligibility, it stays open. Then, as soon as you start streaming music into your hearing aids, it closes.

Benefits of the Phonak ActiveVent Receiver

Better sound quality: When you stream music into hearing aids with open venting, the heightened awareness of low-frequency bass tones makes the music feel much richer and complete.

Settings that mold your daily lifestyle: The best part is that the ActiveVent Receiver automatically switches between open and closed, so you don't have to worry about closing them manually. The active receivers include a vent inside their elongated receiver housing that opens and closes based on the information it receives from your hearing aids. It will remain open if you are having a chat with someone. Then when you decide to listen to your favorite songs, it closes.

A custom-fit titanium earmold: The unique titanium slim tip earmold is another crucial feature. When the ActiveVent closes, the earmold is custom molded to fit your ear canal, creating a perfect seal that traps in the bass tones of music. This custom-fit also achieves a very comfortable fitting hearing aid. It's also hypoallergenic, a boon for those with sensitive skin. 

Music streaming quality has always taken a back seat to enhanced voice intelligibility in my time as an audiologist. The ActiveVent Receiver, on the other hand, combines the best of both worlds. So, if you want your hearing aids to be tuned for improved speech intelligibility as well as better music quality, you may want to choose a hearing aid with a receiver that allows you to do both at the same time.

Compatible hearing aid: Phonak Paradise

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